Axelsen, An suffer opening losses at BWF World Tour Finals

HANGZHOU, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) — Men’s and women’s singles world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and An Se-young of South Korea both lost their opening matches at the 2023 BWF World Tour Finals here on Wednesday.

Defending champion Axelsen was defeated 21-19, 21-19 by home favorite Shi Yuqi, whom he had beaten eight times in a row. The Chinese pocketed the Group A win in 51 minutes.

“I made lots of errors today and I lost confidence on the court, but I still hope I can enter the semifinals,” commented the disappointed Dane, a two-time Finals winner.

Shi said he was very concentrated during the match, which helped him avoid unforced errors. “For the upcoming matches, I believe the mentality is the most important.”

In the other match of group A, Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting rallied from one set down to beat Japan’s Kodai Naraoka 10-21, 21-10, 21-18.

In Group B, Anders Antonsen of Denmark breezed past China’s Li Shifeng, while Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie edged newly-crowned world champion Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand, both in straight sets.

In the women’s singles Group A, 21-year-old An, who was named the Women’s Player of the Year just two days ago, went down to her teammate Kim Ga-eun 21-18, 21-18.

“Of course I want to win all the competitions, but I haven’t trained enough lately. I’m almost recovered now. I need to strengthen my training and adjust myself to a better form,” said An, who was plagued with a knee injury in recent months.

An will next take on Indonesian contender Gregoria Mariska Tunjung, who was upset by Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei 21-18, 21-17.

In Group B, Tokyo Olympic champion Chen Yufei took 63 minutes to overcome compatriot Han Yue, while Spanish veteran Carolina Marin swept Zhang Beiwen of the United States 21-18, 21-10.

Men’s and women’s doubles defending champions Liu Yuchen/Ou Xuanyi and Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan, both from China, claimed victories over fellow nationals respectively.

Another Chinese pair Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong bested Tang Chun-man/Tse Ying-suet of Hong Kong, China 21-17, 21-17 in the mixed doubles.

As badminton’s season-ending tournament, the BWF World Tour Finals features top eight players/pairs from this season in each of the five categories in the World Tour rankings. They are divided into two groups, and the top two players/pairs will advance to the semifinals.